Until 2015, the Boethius manuscript, which dates back to 1130 AD, was thought to have been created in Durham.
However, on closer study, Dr Kylie Murray has discovered the illustration and style of writing does not match that of other manuscripts written in Durham at this time, but more closely resembles the Kelso Charter.
The latter, written at Kelso Abbey in 1159, was thought to be the earliest example of non-biblical illustration in Scotland, an accolade now claimed by the Boethius manuscript.
An annotation on page one reads, ‘David, by grace of god king of Scots,’ also giving a clue to the manuscript’s provenance. Many of David I’s charters came from Kelso Abbey, a place the king is known to have favoured and visited often.
The manuscript is a copy of The Consolation of Philosophy by the Roman statesman and philosopher Boethius, originally written in 524 AD. The philosophical treatise became one of the most influential written works of the Middle Ages, after the Bible, and is considered the last great work of the Classical Period.
Boethius wrote The Consolation of Philosophy whilst he awaited his execution for treason ordered by Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths.
‘The Boethius manuscript allows a fresh understanding of Scotland’s early responses to key intellectual works in the Middle Ages and provides a snapshot of how Scotland’s literary culture as we now know it first began to emerge and develop,’ Dr Murray said of the find.
The Beothius manuscript is housed in the University of Glasgow’s Special Collection, one of the UK’s largest collections of old manuscripts.
For more information visit www.gla.ac.uk/services/specialcollections.
This feature was originally published in 2016.